Australian dress register ID:280
Owner:Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences
Owner registration number:2008/8/1
Date range:1920 - 1926
Place of origin:Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Born in Noumea, New Caledonia, in 1900, May Camille Dezarnaulds migrated to Sydney with her family in 1912 and lived in the harbour-side suburb of Double Bay until 1923 when she married the Hon. G.R.W. McDonald, local member for Bungara New South Wales. She purchased this custom-made dress from David Jones, probably to wear as her 'going-away' outfit when departing for her honeymoon. The garment would have been selected from a David Jones catalogue featuring a list and price of the fabrics available.
David Jones offered dressmaking and tailoring services soon after its establishment in Sydney in 1838. In 1914, it opened a dress-making factory in Marlborough Street, Surry Hills, and manufactured ready-made items that would eventually dominate its clothing range. Nonetheless, its dress-making service remained popular amongst clients able to afford a customised wardrobe or wanting quality garments like this dress for special occasions.
Made from vibrant silk brocade, this dress features the hallmarks of a fashionable and well-made 1920s garment. Its sleeveless, loose-fitting design and short skirt capture the youthful, androgynous look of the decade. The simple shape of the dress is counterbalanced by the rich rose brocaded textile and beaded trim at the waist. Author: Catherine Reade, 29th June 2007.
Evening dress, probably silk brocade, made by David Jones Limited for May Camille McDonald (nee Dezarnaulds), Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, c. 1923
A sleeveless evening dress made in a cream coloured brocade textile. The dress is fully lined and has a square neckline and is loose fitting to below knee length with a slightly raised hemline at front. The dress features centre front pleating at waist which is trimmed with a beaded applique in the shape of a bow. An embroidered handkerchief has been attached to the inside front neckline. No label.
History and Provenance
How does this garment relate to the wider historical context?
David Jones, Australia's oldest department store, opened in 1838 in George Street, Sydney. It catered to the urban gentry as well as country settlers wanting a range of high-quality clothing, fabric, jewellery, sewing machines and other household items. Its Welsh-born proprietor, Mr David Jones, established the store to carry 'a stock that embraces the everyday wants of mankind at large' (as quoted in David Jones website www.davidjones.com.au). In the 1870s, his son, Edward, travelled to Europe to view the local department stores from which he developed a model for the family's Australian enterprise.
David Jones offered dressmaking and tailoring services soon after its establishment. In 1914, it opened a dress-making factory in Marlborough Street, Surry Hills, where it manufactured ready-made items that eventually dominated its clothing range. Nonetheless, its dress-making service remained popular amongst clients able to afford a customised wardrobe or wanting quality garments for special occasions.
In 1927, David Jones opened a grand department store at Elizabeth Street and effectively relocated the Sydney shopping district to the western side of Hyde Park. Its proprietor described it as 'a stunner - big, shining, lovely to the last detail' (quoted in K. Webber and I. Hoskins, 'What's In Store, Powerhouse Museum, 2003, p.9)
Place of origin:
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
May McDonald (nee Dezarnaulds) died in 1987 and bequeathed this dress to her son, George Roy William McDonald (born 1925). His wife, Heather, donated the garment to the Museum in 2008.
Sydney department store, David Jones, made this silk brocade dress around 1923 for a young woman from Double Bay, May Camille Dezarnaulds. The garment would have been selected from a David Jones catalogue featuring a list and price of the fabrics available. Its sleeveless, loose-fitting design captures the youthful, androgynous look of the decade.
David Jones' dress-making service was popular amongst clients able to afford a customised wardrobe or wanting a quality garment for a special occasion. This dress is believed to be part of the 'going away' outfit that May Camille Dezarnaulds wore when departing for her honeymoon.
Trimmings / Decoration
The long sides are held up with a beaded applique brooch in the shape of a bow in the front centre.
Sydney department store, David Jones, made this silk brocade dress around 1923.
- Hand sewn
- Machine sewn